Long term intrinsic cycling in human life course antibody responses to influenza A(H3N2): an observational and modeling study

Bingyi Yang, Bernardo García-Carreras, Justin Lessler, Jonathan M. Read, Huachen Zhu, C. Jessica E. Metcalf, James A. Hay, Kin O. Kwok, Ruiyun Shen, Chao Q. Jiang, Yi Guan, Steven Riley, Derek A. Cummings

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: Over a life course, human adaptive immunity to antigenically mutable pathogens exhibits competitive and facilitative interactions. We hypothesize that such interactions may lead to cyclic dynamics in immune responses over a lifetime. Methods: To investigate the cyclic behavior, we analyzed hemagglutination inhibition titers against 21 historical influenza A(H3N2) strains spanning 47 years from a cohort in Guangzhou, China, and applied Fourier spectrum analysis. To investigate possible biological mechanisms, we simulated individual antibody profiles encompassing known feedbacks and interactions due to generally recog-nized immunological mechanisms. Results: We demonstrated a long-term periodicity (about 24 years) in individual antibody responses. The reported cycles were robust to analytic and sampling approaches. Simulations suggested that individual-level cross-reaction between antigenically similar strains likely explains the reported cycle. We showed that the reported cycles are predictable at both individual and birth cohort level and that cohorts show a diversity of phases of these cycles. Phase of cycle was associated with the risk of seroconversion to circulating strains, after accounting for age and pre-existing titers of the circulating strains. Conclusions: Our findings reveal the existence of long-term periodicities in individual antibody responses to A(H3N2). We hypothesize that these cycles are driven by preexisting antibody responses blunting responses to antigenically similar pathogens (by preventing infection and/or robust antibody responses upon infection), leading to reductions in antigen-specific responses over time until individual’s increasing risk leads to an infection with an antigenically distant enough virus to generate a robust immune response. These findings could help disentangle cohort effects from individual-level exposure histories, improve our understanding of observed heterogeneous antibody responses to immunizations, and inform targeted vaccine strategy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere81457
JournaleLife
Volume11
DOIs
StatePublished - 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)

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